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Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Wellness encompasses the interconnection between the mind, body, and spirit. It is crucial to nurture each of these, and that is precisely why Kanokla is in its second year of having an internal Wellness Team. As a new employee and someone who is open about my mental health journey, I was excited to be a part of this new team at Kanokla!

Our Wellness Team’s goal this year is to take a holistic approach to wellness. We have exciting plans to engage all Kanokla employees in becoming healthier.  We have new activities, competitions, and employee meeting segments focusing on physical, social, financial, and mental health for all Kanokla employees to engage in.

One of my roles on the Wellness Team was implementing mental health check-ins that spread positivity and being open about challenges our coworkers may be facing. I want everyone to take time each day to internally check in with themselves to ensure they are OK while knowing there is a support system at work. Remember that everyone is fighting some kind of battle within themselves. This is a reminder to be kind to anyone you encounter, you never know what they are going through.

With January beginning a brand new year and National Mental Wellness Month, it’s the perfect time for more open conversations about mental health. Being born and raised in Caldwell, talking about mental health in rural America is imperative.

My journey with mental health and depression has been a rough one. I have been through several episodes where I almost didn't make it. My last attempt to take my own life made me realize the support system I have not only in my family but in the Caldwell community with people I have known since my family moved here in 1996. I know firsthand how hard it can be to see all these people and opportunities when you are in such a dark place. Having open dialogue and safe spaces can help us all remember to see the light and embrace the people who want to help. The more we talk about community resources daily, the more opportunities people who are struggling will have to hear their options.  I genuinely believe we can remain proud of our rural lifestyle of being self-reliant, and still break down the stigma/barrier of mental health. In a small community, doing this will change your life or the life of someone you love.Resources for mental health are growing, and it shows even in the most rural areas. For example, in Caldwell, we have resources with Sumner Mental Health, the South Central Kansas chapter of NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness), and telehealth opportunities our local hospital can help connect people with. I recently was told colleges like Wichita State offer therapy to students for free or at very low costs. With or without insurance coverage, telemed is an option in our areas with a reliable internet connection and the growing number of therapists offering virtual appointments and sliding fees based on income. 

One of my virtual resources I have found is called, which gives me daily inspirational texts and also gives you a place to journal your thoughts. There is also that helps connect you to therapists that fit your needs and financial abilities. I think it's important to remember that in 2022, a major breakthrough for mental health crisis support was the transition from the 10-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to 988 – an easy-to-remember three-digit number for 24/7 crisis care. 988 also links to the Veterans Crisis Line, and puts emergency support more in reach for people in need. If you don’t know where to turn or are scared to talk to anyone in your circle, call or text 988. They will talk with you non-judgmentally and help you through whatever you may be going through. 

Mental health conditions, such as anxiety, chronic stress, or depression, can affect every aspect of ourselves and should be thought of as serious health conditions, just like high blood pressure or diabetes.  Small changes like having more conversations with peers, a short article in a newsletter like this one, or forming a wellness team at work, can and do have a huge impact on breaking the stigma surrounding mental health. Please remember you are important, you are enough, you are loved, and you are needed here. Keep going, it's all so worth it!

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